Celtics not discouraged despite back-to-back losses

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NEW YORK – You have to go all the way back to the start of the season when the Celtics started 0-2 to find a stretch in which Boston was looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses.

But this Celtics team, while disappointed following Thursday’s 102-93 loss to New York, the team’s second defeat in as many days, by no means are they a discouraged bunch.

In fact, outside of the game’s outcome, coach Brad Stevens saw a lot of things from his team that he liked in the Knicks game.

“It’s a long year; it’s a marathon,” Stevens said. “We know that. I just told our guys, there’s a lot of things we can improve on. That was the kind of fight we can build off of. The last couple (games)? Not so much. But this one? We’ll be okay if we play like that more often than not.”

Marcus Smart agreed.

Following the 90-89 loss to Miami on Wednesday, Smart was noticeably upset with the team's breakdowns at both ends of the floor, particularly the ones late in the game. But Thursday’s loss to the Knicks, was different.

“I feel the effort was there (tonight),” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “We were up in guys (defensively); we just couldn’t hit shots.

Smart added, “effort-wise, this was definitely better (than the Heat game). But we have to find a way to come out with a victory.”

Following Thursday's loss, the Celtics gave Michael Beasley much of the credit for having an incredible game, tallying 32 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.

According to the Knicks media relations staff, Beasley became the first player in NBA history since they began tracking starts in 1970-1971, to come off the bench and score at least 32 points and grab at least 12 rebounds.

“I’m just here for the team,” Beasley told reporters after the game. “Whatever they need whenever they need it. Scoring, rebounding, defense, just trying to do my best. As humbly as I can say it, I just feel like every shot that I shoot is going in.”

On Thursday, it damn sure looked like that was happening.

“Sometimes, it’s like shooting into an ocean,” Boston’s Terry Rozier told NBC Sports Boston. “The rim looks bigger, and he got it going and he didn’t look back.”

The Celtics will have to do the same now that they are riding their first losing streak since the start of the season.

Players and coaches agree there are areas that they can improve upon, at both ends of the floor.

But there is no sense of panic or great concern at this point for Boston, not when you consider where they are record-wise and the physical and mental toll of this non-stop grind of a season they’re in with no real chance to catch their breath until the second week of January when they play against Philadelphia on London on Jan. 11 which will be their only game that week.

However, no one inside this Celtics locker room is thinking that far down the road.

The focus right now is to just build off of what they did well against New York which if you listen to the players, is in greater abundance than areas in need of fixing.

“I felt tonight we played really hard, were really engaged,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “We put ourselves in a position to win the game. I honestly don’t think there’s much of a concern. I think we need to regroup, get as much rest as we can and get ready for a tough game on Saturday (against Chicago).

He added, “I think we’re going to be OK. I don’t think we need to over-react.”

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